Special Rules are Evil

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  • Special Rules are Evil



    (Thanks to @JimMorr for this one).

    Special rules have the feel of being more powerful and flexible for design and balance, because you can say exactly what an item or model does, and they can be seen as more flavorful.

    But in a game with many interacting systems this inevitably turns into a confusing, counterintuitive, bloated mess that results in rules lawyering

    For example, the interaction between Spiked Shield (WDG) and Gigantic mounts is confusing enough that (a) the designers missed it, (b) people who argue in favor of special rules get it wrong and (c) it's not even clear which way it should be played because it comes down to how you should interpret this:

    WDG 204 page 3 wrote:

    Follows the rules for Shield ... Whenever a model that is using the Shield simultaneously with a Hand Weapon is attacked ...
    with respect to this:

    Rulebook 204 page 85 wrote:

    ignore the rider’s Armour Equipment ... unless specifically stated otherwise (such as Armour Enchantments that affect the bearer’s model)
    So, does it count?

    ?( ?(

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    Special rules also generate a big wall of text, and that has to be hidden away somehow, typically in nested rules.

    For example,

    (a) can a barbarian chief on a chimera with wings fire his throwing weapons after marching?
    (b) Is he stubborn in a forest?

    Answers in the comments please!



    It's not always complicated gotchas like this that cause problems. Too many special rules can make you forget things because of the ever-increasing cognitive load of remembering more and more exceptions to a usual sequence of play.

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    But is all this complexity really a problem?

    Jimmorr wrote:

    What is more wargaming scene has changed. GW noticed it and AoS us their successful response to market demanding systems they can learn while already enjoying the game. People will not study to play if they have alternative systems that will not require them to. It was not so 10 years ago. So yes, for present wargaming market our system is dedicated to narrow group of fanatics and tournament freaks. And if we won't address it in 5 years there might be only aos

    We have created/inherited LawHammer - the rules are too legalistic and complex for what most people want to play.

    Legalism is what you get when you start with a simple system and gradually layer complexity onto it in an ad-hoc way. At first it works well, but as more and more exceptions to the original system are created, they eventually become the system - a system of exceptions. And that is inevitably going to suck.

    The original system for T9A goes back to Warhammer Fantasy from 1983, and then back to Chainmail in 1970. That's 50 years of organic complexity accretion with no-one looking at the system wholistically to see how it could be globally modified to achieve its design goals with less complexity and more streamlined gameplay. I think we should be looking at this now for T9A 3.0.
  • I don't think complexity is the problem.
    At least, not when it comes to attracting new players. So what is?
    9TH AGE CAN'T BE FOUND ON ANY SHELF IN ANY STORE!
    Where other game systems have cool shiny models, starter boxes and rulebooks on the shelves in stores, we have none. As such, any new player for fantasy miniature games most likely will play some other game, a game he can find everything for in a store. Those things are: models and rules.
    My 2 cents ;)
    Smashing skulls since 99
  • Since you've not quoted the full rule, I'll go post it here so we can see what it says in full.
    Context is afterall quite important.
    Note I'm quoting from the newest version of the 2.0 rules.

    WotDG Book wrote:

    Spiked Shield - Armour
    Follows the rules for Shield, except Large Cavalry do not gain +1 Armour for using it. This armour cannot beenchanted with Armour Enchantments from the Common Special Equipment section. Whenever a model that isusing the Shield simultaneously with a Hand Weapon is attacked by a Melee Attack from an enemy model in thewielder’s Front Facing, and it passes its Armour Save on a natural roll of 4+, the unit that performed the attackimmediately suffers a hit with Strength 4 and Armour Penetration 1. This is considered a Special Attack.
    Not exactly the nicest rule to look at but we can ignore that for now.

    Slim Rulebook page 73 wrote:

    17.B.4 Model Rules
    Model Rules connected to specific model parts (such as Attack Attributes, Special Attacks, and weapons) are onlyapplied to this model part. Other Model Rules (such as Universal Rules, Character, Armour, and Personal Protections)are applied to the combined model as normal.
    Remember that models with Massive Bulk(all models of Gigantic Size) ignore Armour and Personal Protectionsfrom the rider.
    Important bits in red.

    So no you don't get the benefit of the Spiked Shield, because the Gigantic Mount ignores those things.
    Shields are Armour Equipment (I'm not quoting that).

    The Chimera and throwing weapons?
    Units entirely consisting of models with Light Troops (it's 1 model) can march and shoot.
    So you're free to march and shoot with him.

    Not stubborn in a forest.
    That's for Infantry who are Light Troops and don't have Towering Presence and/or Fly.
    The Chimera is not Infantry and while it has light troops it also has towering presence and Fly.

    Admittedly finding these rules was a bit of a pain, as I had to keep going back to the contents to go see where the next section to check was. That could be worked on.
  • I wholeheartedly agree that the rules have become too complicated. Or should I say: The wording has become to complicated.

    I like complex rules, which is why I play T9A. But over the last few iterations, the wording of most rules has become quite annoying. There are so many exceptions and special cases that need to be considered...
    I'm sure things can be "trimmed" down on this end somewhere to get more comprehensive rules. I'd like to address the designers with this as well: There are far too many conditional rules out there...
  • Warboss_R'ok wrote:

    theunwantedbeing wrote:

    But it doesn't say bearers model.
    But it does affect the bearer's model, which is what the rule asks for.
    Could you possibly explain the train of thought you're going through to get to that please?

    I've got a headache right now and it's probably making me misunderstand something, having it laid out point by point would be very helpful so I know exactly how you're getting to that conclusion.


    Warboss_R'ok wrote:

    theunwantedbeing wrote:

    Units entirely consisting of models with Light Troops (it's 1 model) can march and shoot.
    And how come it has light troops?
    Because it can fly, and it's a nested rule.
    And then you've got to go to the forest rules in the terrain section to see what lets the be stubborn or not.
    As I said, it's a bit of a chore to get to and you have to keep going back to the contents page to find the relevant section and could be improved.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by theunwantedbeing ().

  • theunwantedbeing wrote:

    Could you possibly explain the train of thought you're going through to get to that please?
    Spiked shield says "if a model is hit". This means it affects the bearer's model, not the bearer. Every other personal protection says "bearer" or "wearer", except for the ones that are supposed to bypass Massive Bulk. So it's reasonable to interpret this to mean that massive bulk is bypassed in this case.

    And the way the massive bulk rule is written is actually unclear in a subtle way. It says "unless specifically stated otherwise (such as Armour Enchantments that affect the bearer’s model)". But there is some wiggle room in what exactly counts as "specifically stating" something.

    The argument that it doesn't work is that the meaning of "specifically stating" otherwise is that the exact phrase "bearer's model" has to be used. But if you interpret it more broadly, you just have to refer to the bearer's model. When spiked shield talks about "a model", it's talking about the model of which a model part is bearing a spiked shield, i.e. the bearer's model. So it's talking about the bearers model but without using the phrase "bearer's model".
  • Warboss_R'ok wrote:

    theunwantedbeing wrote:

    Could you possibly explain the train of thought you're going through to get to that please?
    Spiked shield says "if the model is hit". This means it affects the bearer's model, not the bearer. Every other personal protection says "bearer" or "wearer", except for the ones that are supposed to bypass Massive Bulk. So it's reasonable to interpret this to mean that massive bulk is bypassed in this case.
    ...erm. Oh dear.

    Warboss_R wrote:

    And the way the massive bulk rule is written is actually unclear in a subtle way. It says "unless specifically stated otherwise (such as Armour Enchantments that affect the bearer’s model)". But there is some wiggle room in what exactly counts as "specifically stating" something.
    Only if you've completely misunderstood how the rules work.
    Which you have.

    Warboss_R wrote:

    The argument that it doesn't work is that the meaning of "specifically stating" otherwise is that the exact phrase "bearer's model" has to be used. But if you interpret it more broadly, you just have to refer to the bearer's model. When spiked shield talks about "a model", it's talking about the model of which a model part is bearing a spiked shield, i.e. the bearer's model. So it's talking about the bearers model but without using the phrase "bearer's model".
    And you're just doing mental backflips to get to a reasoning to justify why your initial misreading of the rules is correct.


    Really the issue is we need to stop saying Bearers Model, or similar since you've clearly managed to misinterpret how that works.
    (and I really don't like the term as it sounds like broken english)

    We should probably go back to saying
    • "...and their gigantic mount"
      for rules that also affect the mounts when they normally wouldn't
    • "...and their unit"
      for rules that also affect the unit when they normally wouldn't
    Then we need to make it clear in the rules that equipment and so forth only ever affect the thing actually wearing it, unless sated otherwise by the term ...and their gigantic mount and ...and their unit.

    The post was edited 1 time, last by theunwantedbeing: added the word gigantic to prevent confusion ().

  • theunwantedbeing wrote:

    Then we need to make it clear in the rules that equipment and so forth only ever affect the thing actually wearing it
    The problem with this is that defensive equipment cannot affect a model part at all because you cannot attack a model part.

    The way that would make everything very clear is to make it an absolute rule that defensive equipment always affects the whole model.

    So then in the case of spiked shield, if the designer's intention was for it to not work with gigantic models, the equipment would say "standard and large only".

    As an aside, it's a pretty confusing situation when a model can buy a piece of equipment but that some convoluted rule means that the equipment has no effect, and I think there should be a blanket ban on that ever happening.
  • badman341980 wrote:

    I don't think complexity is the problem.
    At least, not when it comes to attracting new players. So what is?
    9TH AGE CAN'T BE FOUND ON ANY SHELF IN ANY STORE!
    Where other game systems have cool shiny models, starter boxes and rulebooks on the shelves in stores, we have none.
    I am going to solve it as StormRider Games. But shelves in stores are filled with systems no-one plays despite huge promotion. Have you ever seen someone playing Runewars? And this is FFG able to spend milions on promotion and benefit systems for shops promoting localy their game. Getting the system printed and delivered to some shops will solve nothing if the system is too difficult for shops to run demo game.
    Homebrew: Hetmanate of Ukray_____________Report your battle results using mobile app: T9A Magic Flux!
  • JimMorr wrote:

    badman341980 wrote:

    I don't think complexity is the problem.
    At least, not when it comes to attracting new players. So what is?
    9TH AGE CAN'T BE FOUND ON ANY SHELF IN ANY STORE!
    Where other game systems have cool shiny models, starter boxes and rulebooks on the shelves in stores, we have none.
    I am going to solve it as StormRider Games. But shelves in stores are filled with systems no-one plays despite huge promotion. Have you ever seen someone playing Runewars? And this is FFG able to spend milions on promotion and benefit systems for shops promoting localy their game. Getting the system printed and delivered to some shops will solve nothing if the system is too difficult for shops to run demo game.
    Have to agree with @JimMorr , i played a game of 40k this weekend, one of my first ever, picked it up after a turn or two, no problem, it is very hard to encourage some of my game group to play 9th due to the volume/size of the rules.

    It is quite intimidating to a new player!

    nested nested, reference this, check here, then check there, and so on.
    death is lighter than a feather, duty heavier than a mountain
  • 40k is special as is a bloated mess, but still easy to pick up as the core rules are simple and special rules do not change them

    Same for X-Wing, it gets very complex (extensive or voluminous is the better term, also for T9A) if you dig in, but it is easy to pick up and a kid can play it after reading the rulebook once.

    Not talking about chess, very complex game, very easy to get into it and "special rules" (like pawn promotion) do not change core rules

    badman341980 wrote:

    I don't think complexity is the problem.
    You are right, complexity is not the problem, but being complicated is one

    The post was edited 1 time, last by Kodos der Henker ().

  • sparkytrypod wrote:

    nested nested, reference this, check here, then check there, and so on.
    Yes, I've long been advocating more redundancy in the rules. This has become so annoying... When I want to look something up in the rule book, I have to search three entries until I found the one sentence I was looking for.

    I realise that removing redudancy from the rule book has made maintainable... But in my opinion, it is counterproductive. Check other rule books for games - this should not be written like a scientific work (which is also why I dislike the new rule book very much)...
    Even back in Warhammer there were little sentences like "Remember that [...]" for magic items and the like. It made the game so much easier to understand.

    This is also something I've heard somewhat often from other players. Do you think starting some kind of "petition" for "easier to understand rules and less special cases" would have a chance?
  • New

    kisanis wrote:

    how will latex help with allowing repeititon of rules without accidentally stating the wrong info multiple times?
    What do you mean? Repeat a reminder in multiple places without having the risk that a modification of the reminder do not get implemented everywhere? If this is what you mean, yes, LaTeX helps a lot with this.

    I want to explore the possibility of using "tooltips" in the electronic version: when you hover over a rule, a tool tip appears with a summary of said rule. But it doesn't help for the printed version.

    kisanis wrote:

    I imagine it can help un-nest some in the spirit of clarity?
    I don't know, more pages mean that specific things get a bit harder to find compared to a concise book. I guess we should strive for a balance, and maybe we're a bit off at the moment.

    Caledoriv wrote:

    This is also something I've heard somewhat often from other players. Do you think starting some kind of "petition" for "easier to understand rules and less special cases" would have a chance?
    Easier to understand rules, all the Rules Clarity Team already has that in mind when working on the rules. Less special cases, that would be at the Rules Team level. I think that when they can remove special cases without removing strategy depth, they obviously go for it.

    But what I understanding from this topic is that the general feeling is that we should try to simplify the game, when the depth of the rules was one of the things that attracted me to Warhammer. I completely agree that if we want to catch a lot of new players, we need a simpler game. But I think the oversimplification of things is a bit sad. I don't want T9A to go in Age of Sigmar direction. I completely support developing another set of rules, far simpler, for skirmish games, for example, that would attract the masses. That would be a good and appealing way to get people that wouldn't come normally closer to T9A. And get them to think more ;)

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